|August 30, 2006
CAW President Buzz Hargrove's 2006 Labour Day Message: Made in Canada matters
|This Labour Day, as always, I find myself reflecting on the many sacrifices made by our parents and grandparents for the benefit of all
of us. They fought hard for important social gains such as public health care, free education, civil liberties, social equality and the
right to join a union. Their fights for what we tend to take for granted have contributed to making the world a better and safer place,
either directly or by example.
This Labour Day, in particular, I am reminded of why the CAW motto, “fighting back makes a difference” is important for all of us to
think about. Because, the fight is far from over.
Workers in Canada and throughout the world are engaged in an unprecedented struggle against an ideology that celebrates
unlimited profits and greed as the most important social values. Under this ideology, people are consumers, not citizens.
“Globalization” sells itself falsely on promises of individual freedom and democracy, but the real agenda is to increase profits for the
wealthy few, not to build a more caring, just society for the many.
To achieve its goals, globalization threatens to dismantle everything that we have won: workers now face the threat of permanent job
loss, the erosion of working conditions, and declines in wages, pensions and benefits. Not only does this affect workers today, but
future generations will also suffer if these negative trends are not reversed.
Every day we hear about the various forms that globalization takes:
- The push towards massive international corporate mergers, like Canada’s Falconbridge and Swiss-based Xstrata;
- The ongoing push by federal governments to install free trade (not fair trade) agreements with foreign countries, like Prime
Minister Harper’s attempts with South Korea;
- The constant drive to ‘lean out’ or reduce the role of government through the privatization and deregulation of national
institutions, thereby threatening our health care and education systems, as well as the loss of control over our natural
Globalization also rears its ugly head locally. In Toronto, some councilors suggested the city should auction off a $700 million project
for new TTC subway cars on the global market instead of building the cars at Bombardier’s Thunder Bay facility. German-based
Siemens AG, a major suitor for the TTC contract, publicly announced its plans to take the jobs out of Canada and build the cars in
China – resulting in over 600 supplier jobs and millions of tax dollars lost to the Toronto and Ontario economies.
Despite the fact that the citizens of Thunder Bay would receive a much needed economic boost by landing this government contract,
there are still those who, incredibly, think the best way to help Canadians is by taking away their jobs!
Public funds should be used for the public good. There is no reason why government officials should even consider spending
taxpayers’ money on goods and services outside of the country where they are available in Canada and the money can create
prosperity within our own borders.
Thankfully, along with a highly publicized fight-back campaign, a group of TTC officials and independent consultants have
recommended that the bid be awarded to Bombardier, citing the numerous benefits to citizens, taxpayers and the domestic economy.
The negative effects of the ideology of globalization are being faced every day by workers in various other industries including auto,
shipbuilding, fishing, aerospace, electronics and electrical production, food processing, as well as within the broader service sector.
The CAW and other unions refuse to sit idly by as the attacks on our hard-won gains continue. We have launched a “Made in Canada
Matters” broad approach campaign. Our goal is straightforward: we want to protect Canadians by keeping jobs in Canada. Currently,
our focus is on Bombardier and new TTC vehicles. Other initiatives will be highlighted as we go along.
This Labour Day, workers across the country will come together as we have done for over a century. We will come to celebrate the
work of organized labour in support of better wages, better working conditions, stronger pension plans, progressive labour
legislation, the protection of public institutions, rights and freedoms, peace, equality, democracy, respect and solidarity.
This year, our message to Stephen Harper and all others who advocate for globalization will be clear: “Made in Canada Matters” to all
Our obligation as workers is to protect the interests of working people now and for the future - just as it was for those before us.
The idea that fighting back makes a difference is as important today as it has always been.
Source: CAW NewsNow